An NYRB Classics Original
SIMONE WEIL (1909-1943) was one of the first female graduates of the Ecole Normale Superieure and taught philosophy in provincial schools from 1931 to 1938. A socialist, she worked for a time on the Renault assembly line and volunteered to fight against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In 1938, a mystical vision led Weil to convert to Roman Catholicism, though she refused the sacrament of baptism. Weil fled France for the United States in 1942, where, in solidarity with the people of Occupied France, she drastically limited her intake of food, so hastening her early death from tuberculosis. SIMON LEYS's (1935-2014) writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Le Monde, Le Figaro Litteraire, and other periodicals. Among his books are Chinese Shadows, The Death of Napoleon (forthcoming from NYRB Classics), Other People's Thoughts, and The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper. In 2013, New York Review Books Classics published The Hall of Uselessness, a volume of his collected essays. CZESLAW MILOSZ (1911-2004) was born in Lithuania. Among his published books are works of criticism (The Captive Mind), fiction (The Issa Valley), memoir (Native Realm), and many volumes of poetry. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
It makes for fascinating, and unsettling, election-year reading. New Republic "At a time when the distrust and disenchantment Americans feel with politics runs deeper than the Mariana Trench, Weil's essay 'On the Abolition of All Political Parties' would no doubt be a best seller." -- -Robert Zaretsky, from "Recalling the Apostle of Nonpartisanship," "What makes her thought so special, so bracing and so strange, is its combination of philosophical rigour and spiritual compass...Only a saint could withstand the pressure to conform to the prefabricated morality of the political realm; only a genius could formulate an idea outside the 'for' or 'against' thinking so long inculcated by party politics that it has become a kind of 'intellectual leprosy.' The tone and texture of this vivid editorial, however, renews a certainty that Weil was both." The Australian "Weil's writing is unusual and compelling, in part, because it is both quite strictly rational and eccentrically spiritual. Her argumentation is so compact, so holistic, each sentence and paragraph building methodically on its predecessor, that trying to precis her is probably futile. To omit anything from a summary of her writing is to short-change her. She writes modestly and without flair, but her words all but radiate moral and intellectual conviction." Australian Book Review